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Ethics and Archiving the Web: How to ethically collect and use web archives

March 30 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

This event features presentations and a Q + A session with Muira McCammon (University of Pennsylvania), Michael Nelson (Old Dominion University) and Lorena Ramírez-López (Archivist, Developer and Translator contributing to multiple projects). Our three speakers will share their perspectives on bringing an ethical lens to the work of web archiving, including how we might view the work collecting, displaying, and sharing material archived from the web.

Register here.

Ethics and the expansion of access to web archiving tools via translation (from English to Spanish)
Lorena Ramírez-López

It’s hard for web archives to serve and be used by the public when web archiving interfaces, tools and documentation are being predominantly created with the assumption that users have fluency in the English language. It’s also problematic for web archives to not only be housed in the US, but also described, accessed and processed in English only.

The expansion of access to web archiving tools and information via translation of documentation and resources into different languages opens opportunities to do web archiving to a much larger group of users including many in underserved communities. The ethics surrounding translation methods and the ways web archiving tools, documentation, and resources are shared are essential to explore and consider as this important work continues. In this presentation we will learn more about how it’s not only about language, but also about lowering the barriers of entry, support, and collaboration that facilitates collecting among English and Spanish speakers alike.

Ethical approaches to research and scholarship using web archives
Muira McCammon

Using web archives for research and scholarship can be fraught, especially when exploring contested knowledge and issues surrounding governmental transparency. This presentation will include an examination of deletion practices and controversies surrounding information infrastructures that support long-term cultural memory (including social media). The analysis and processes covered are influenced by experience as an investigative journalist and as an academic studying a broad range of issues including dead and dying digital platforms. Ethical approaches are integral to understanding the past and present, as well as perhaps anticipating the future. In this presentation one will learn more about how ethics guide research, scholarship and communications surrounding this work.

Uncertainty in Replaying Archived Twitter Pages
Michael L. Nelson
@phonedude_mln, @WebSciDL

Archiving Twitter pages in public web archives like the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and archive.today are often preferable to taking screenshots of Twitter pages, but there are real concerns about the fidelity and authenticity of replaying archived Twitter pages. We cover
some of the well-known problems in archiving and replaying Twitter, including: support for foreign languages, the impact of Twitter’s user interface change in the Summer of 2020, replaying pages that never existed on the live web, inconsistent replay of “fact-check labels”, and artifacts introduced in archival replay by competing scripts. Individually and in aggregate, all of these issues could contribute to either misinformation (confusion on replay) or disinformation (cherry-picked examples being used to support an untrue narrative). Those who would use archived Twitter pages for historical analysis must be aware of uncertainties introduced by replay systems and ethical implications associated with these factors.


March 30
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm